Skip to comments.Wouldn’t you feel safer with a gun?
Posted on 09/07/2007 4:26:09 PM PDT by holymoly
British attitudes are supercilious and misguided
Despite the recent spate of shootings on our streets, we pride ourselves on our strict gun laws. Every time an American gunman goes on a killing spree, we shake our heads in righteous disbelief at our poor benighted colonial cousins. Why is it, even after the Virginia Tech massacre, that Americans still resist calls for more gun controls?
The short answer is that gun controls do not work: they are indeed generally perverse in their effects. Virginia Tech, where 32 students were shot in April, had a strict gun ban policy and only last year successfully resisted a legal challenge that would have allowed the carrying of licensed defensive weapons on campus.
It is with a measure of bitter irony that we recall Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia, recording the words of Cesare Beccaria: Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.
One might contrast the Virginia Tech massacre with the assault on Virginias Appalachian Law School in 2002, where three lives were lost before a student fetched a pistol from his car and apprehended the gunman.
Virginia Tech reinforced the lesson that gun controls are obeyed only by the law-abiding. New York has banned pistols since 1911, and its fellow murder capitals, Washington DC and Chicago, have similar bans. One can draw a map of the US, showing the inverse relationship of the strictness of its gun laws, and levels of violence: all the way down to Vermont, with no gun laws at all, and the lowest level of armed violence (one thirteenth that of Britain).
Americas disenchantment with gun control is based on experience: whereas in the 1960s and 1970s armed crime rose in the face of more restrictive gun laws (in much of the US, it was illegal to possess a firearm away from the home or workplace), over the past 20 years all violent crime has dropped dramatically, in lockstep with the spread of laws allowing the carrying of concealed weapons by law-abiding citizens. Florida set this trend in 1987, and within five years the states that had followed its example showed an 8 per cent reduction in murders, 7 per cent reduction in aggravated assaults, and 5 per cent reduction in rapes. Today 40 states have such laws, and by 2004 the US Bureau of Justice reported that firearms-related crime has plummeted.
In Britain, however, the image of violent America remains unassailably entrenched. Never mind the findings of the International Crime Victims Survey (published by the Home Office in 2003), indicating that we now suffer three times the level of violent crime committed in the United States; never mind the doubling of handgun crime in Britain over the past decade, since we banned pistols outright and confiscated all the legal ones.
We are so self-congratulatory about our officially disarmed society, and so dismissive of colonial rednecks, that we have forgotten that within living memory British citizens could buy any gun rifle, pistol, or machinegun without any licence. When Dr Watson walked the streets of London with a revolver in his pocket, he was a perfectly ordinary Victorian or Edwardian. Charlotte Brontë recalled that her curate father fastened his watch and pocketed his pistol every morning when he got dressed; Beatrix Potter remarked on a Yorkshire country hotel where only one of the eight or nine guests was not carrying a revolver; in 1909, policemen in Tottenham borrowed at least four pistols from passers-by (and were joined by other armed citizens) when they set off in pursuit of two anarchists unwise enough to attempt an armed robbery. We now are shocked that so many ordinary people should have been carrying guns in the street; the Edwardians were shocked rather by the idea of an armed robbery.
If armed crime in London in the years before the First World War amounted to less than 2 per cent of that we suffer today, it was not simply because society then was more stable. Edwardian Britain was rocked by a series of massive strikes in which lives were lost and troops deployed, and suffragette incendiaries, anarchist bombers, Fenians, and the spectre of a revolutionary general strike made Britain then arguably a much more turbulent place than it is today. In that unstable society the impact of the widespread carrying of arms was not inflammatory, it was deterrent of violence.
As late as 1951, self-defence was the justification of three quarters of all applications for pistol licences. And in the years 1946-51 armed robbery, the most significant measure of gun crime, ran at less than two dozen incidents a year in London; today, in our disarmed society, we suffer as many every week.
Gun controls disarm only the law-abiding, and leave predators with a freer hand. Nearly two and a half million people now fall victim to crimes of violence in Britain every year, more than four every minute: crimes that may devastate lives. It is perhaps a privilege of those who have never had to confront violence to disparage the power to resist.
Granted, but it’s not just about feeling safe. It’s about doing what’s right and best.
One might even feel less safe when armed, depending on many things, but it’s still the right thing to do in this world.
Not only that, but basic economics would deny the ability of gub’mint to totally control arms. I own all the tooling neccesary to produce reasonable firearms. If sufficient market incentive existed, I could meet certain needs that went unmet.
Of course, any complete ban on firearms will also neccessitate a complete confiscation of machine tools, information and critical materials. Skilled machinists, craftsmen and motivated patriots would have to be rounded up, too.
“Gun controls disarm only the law-abiding, and leave predators with a freer hand. Nearly two and a half million people now fall victim to crimes of violence in Britain every year, more than four every minute: crimes that may devastate lives. It is perhaps a privilege of those who have never had to confront violence to disparage the power to resist.”
The mindset of Americans would have to be changed (unfortunately, a work in progress) just as has happened in England and Europe in general. They have the skilled craftsmen and the necessary tools but no desire to manufacture arms on the sly mindset change.
None of the weapons I have owned have ever been fired in self-defense.
Part of the reason this is so, is that merely having the weapon, constantly reminds me to avoid situations where it is likely to be needed, and to be aware of any threats in my surroundings, at all times.
Their taxes are killing the ability to acquire the tooling and their obesience to global markets is doing in their pool of skilled talent.
I suspect, though, that they have been narcotized by their dependence on Big Brother to the point where the desire to be free is long gone.
Gun control is like trying to reduce drunk driving by making it tougher for sober people to own cars.
“Wouldnt you feel safer with a gun?”
“Feeling” safe will get you killed. I am able to defend my life and property with a firearm. It makes me no safer, just more prepared.
Ironically, here at Mr. Jefferson's University, it is illegal for private citizens to possess guns of any type on University property, irrespective of licensing.
[S]edentary life becomes the last stage of civilization and the point where it begins to decay. It also constitutes the last stage of evil and of remoteness from goodness.... [S]edentary people have become used to laziness and ease. They are sunk in well-being and luxury. They have entrusted the defense of their property and lives to the governor who rules them, and to the militia which has the task of guarding them.... They are carefree and trusting, and have ceased to carry weapons. Successive generations have grown up in this way of life. They have become like women and children, who depend upon the master of the house."
-- Ibn Khaldûn, Muqaddimah, 1377
Sig Sauer ping
Bingo. I heard it put this way.
Killing a person in self defense is way at the bottom of the list of things I want to do in this lifetime. It comes right above me or my family getting hurt or killed.
I have been llegally armed for many years. I have never experienced that feeling; not even once.
OTOH, on the rare occasions when I was disarmed and in public, I invariably felt less safe.
A Liberal Democrats wish and hope. It is what they live for. Dependence on government.
Remarkable. But I expect the essay will be ignored. Anyone who thinks US liberalism is bad should look at the European version of it. They have do not live in the real world. It’s as if reality was an enemy attack, and they’ve repulsed it.
“They have do not live in the real world.”
They do not live in the real world. :)
Of course, any complete ban on firearms will also neccessitate a complete confiscation of machine tools, information and critical materials. Skilled machinists, craftsmen and motivated patriots would have to be rounded up, too.”
Excellent point. I believe that the desire to disarm the American people is not really based in logic or reason. Many among the “elite” on the left and in academia (but I repeat myself) simply detest the idea of a self sufficient citizenry. They want to change the culture to make everyone more passive and unwilling to defend themselves.
De-legitimizing firearms is a step in that direction.
Here’s an article I just found that typifies this developing attitude in gub’mint: http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:LVeotMq_HbsJ:findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20070303/ai_n18721143+home+firearms+machinist&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=5&gl=us
If that link doesn’t work, here’s another: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20070303/ai_n18721143
Very Very Good Article
Great article; I’ve sent it to people on my email list. Thank you very much for posting.
Also interesting are the reader comments at the Times site.